God said "Let there be light", and there was light. What an amazing sentence and statement. What is so amazing about this sentence is that there is no break between what God commands and that which happens.
God's command is completely irrevocable. If God calls for something to be...It will be. Period. No questions asked. God is all powerful and brings things into existence that are not. (Romans 4:17)
Bearing this in mind I wanted to look more specifically at the efficacy of God's calling to bring about faith in those whom he calls to himself.
Much of this blog post is influenced by Thomas Schreiner's book New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ which I am really enjoying! So click on the link if you would like to check out the book for yourself.
Romans 8:30 states that:
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:30 ESV)
This verse is speaking about how salvation comes about in people's lives. Paul, in the preceding verse, shows that salvation begins in eternity past in God's loving foreknowing of those whom he will predestine to be conformed into the image of Christ. As we read into verse 30 we see that Paul is creating an unbreakable chain in which salvation occurs. All who God foreknows (mercifully sets his love upon) he predestines, all those whom he predestines he calls, and those whom he calls he also justifies, and finally those whom he justifies he will ultimately glorify.
Now there is an almost infinite number of things I could talk about in this rich passage of scripture. However, the part that I want to focus on in particular is the truth that all who God calls he also justifies. This statement tells us something about what exactly Paul means when he is talking about God's calling. The way we can know this is because Paul talks both extensively and clearly about what it means to be justified. Therefore if we look at what Paul says about being justified and then look at what Paul has to say about God's calling then we are sure to have light shed upon this dense statement.
First let us look at how one is justified. To be very straightforward with the reader Paul states in Romans 5:1 that we are justified by faith.
That being understood we can now look at Romans 8:30 with a slightly clearer view. We have already noted that Paul has stated that "all who are called are justified". Therefore, we can conclude that all who are called have faith because we are justified by faith.
This reveals something extremely powerful and important about the nature of God's calling. Namely, God's calling effects faith in those who he calls in order that they may be justified.
This idea is backed in Paul's presentation of what God's calling is in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24. Paul states that the Gospel is preached to all but only to those who are called is it effective. In other words it is only when the sovereign, faith effecting, call of God accompanies the declaration of the gospel that the work of justification happens.
This reality is emphasized in Romans 4:17 when Paul says that God calls into existence that which does not exist (Namely faith) and in Romans 11:29 where Paul states that "the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."
This is a powerful truth that shows that salvation truly does "belong to the Lord" (Psalm 3:8 & Revelation 7:10)
Until Next Time,
Michael lives with his wife (Caroline) and dog (Beau) in Athens, GA where he teaches history and economics to high schoolers. Michael enjoys reading, watching soccer, drinking bourbon, and taking walks with his wife and dog.